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Science Papers

  • One Health- the WSPA Approach

    Abstract The One Health principle holds that human health is closely linked to animal health and welfare. Consequently, the development of integrated responses to global public health challenges is required. WSPA believes that global adherence to animal welfare principles will be instrumental in preventing emerging infectious diseases, including zoonotic diseases, from occurring, and thus help stop these diseases inflicting serious resource strains on national and international health services. We work with governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations and communities to ensure positive solutions are put in place for animals and people alike. These solutions include; working to control the transmission of canine rabies to people through sustainable mass dog vaccination programmes; preparing communities for disasters so that both their own and their animals’ welfare is protected; and addressing the role that better welfare standards for wildlife play in the spread of zoonotic diseases.

    Abson, F., Balaskas, M., Clark, M., Fassina, N. and Kennedy, M. (2014). One Health- the WSPA Approach. Planet@Risk 2(4): 212-216.
  • Ethics and Approaches to Working Equine Welfare

    Abstract The utility of animal welfare science in the practical improvement of the welfare of working animals is well recognised. It allows us to measure the welfare of individual animals in an objective manner and study how changes we suggest affect their welfare. It does not, however, help us decide the morally acceptability of a particular level of welfare. Such considerations lie within the field of ethics. It could be argued that in our haste to alleviate the suffering of working animals questions of ethics have been neglected.

    The ethical frameworks available for such consideration are limited. They include the utilitarian animal welfare philosophy, which holds that it is acceptable for humans to raise animals for food and skins and use them for research, recreation and, of particular relevance to the working equine, draught. The benefits of the activities must, however, exceed any harm done to the animals, unnecessary suffering must be avoided and the animals must be treated humanely. This ethical position is dominant amongst organisations working to improve working equine welfare. The deontological animal rights approach, which holds that any human use of other animals, including draught, is wrong in principle and should be abolished, considers questions of the amount of suffering involved irrelevant. To the deontologist, if animals should not be used in such ways, any suffering is unnecessary, and any human benefit accrued equally irrelevant. It is clear why organisations founded on such deontological principles have difficulty participating in practical improvement of working equine welfare.

    A third approach is animal protection, which focusses on protecting the interests of sentient animals in having a good life. While explicitly recognising the interests of the animal in the ethical balancing of human and animal interests, it by no means precludes the use of equines for draught.

    Kennedy, M. (2014) Ethics and approaches to working equine welfare. 7th International Colloquium on Working Equids, London.
  • Applying Animal Welfare Science to Ethical Debate: the Animal Protection Approach

    Abstract Animal welfare science allows us to objectively assess the welfare of animals. In isolation it informs, but does not resolve, ethical debate on which levels of welfare are morally acceptable.

    Utilitarian animal welfare philosophy holds that it is acceptable for humans to use animals if the use in question is justified by cost-benefit analysis, and asserts that animals must be treated as humanely as possible. A limitation is the difficulty of reconciliation of utilitarian pleasure and pain currencies between beneficiaries and victims. Furthermore, the utilitarian approach is heavily influenced by subjective evaluation of the relative value of animal lives. It might seem that such troublesome uncertainties are avoided in the deontological animal rights approach. In holding that certain (or all) uses of animals are wrong in principle, questions of the amount of suffering become irrelevant. If animals should not be used in such ways, any suffering is unnecessary and any benefit irrelevant. Organisations with a rights-based approach to animal use often encounter closed ranks when attempting to influence animal users, limiting their contribution to the pragmatic improvement of the lives of animals.

    As an alternative approach, it could be argued that the case for our having moral obligations to animals rests in their sentience and telos. What we do to them and how we make them live matters because they have positive and negative experiences and emotions. They have telos- nature (which includes species-typical behaviour) and interests- as well as intrinsic value beyond their utility to humans. At the very least animals have an interest in having a ‘Good Life’ (Green & Mellor, New Zeal. Vet. J., 59:6, 2011). The role of animal protection organisations such as WSPA is to work to promote and protect animal interests, which are often at risk of being over-ridden by competing interests.

    Kennedy, M. (2014) Applying animal welfare science to ethical debate: the animal protection approach. 48th International Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology, Vitoria-Gastiez.
  • Euthanasia or Precautionary Euthanasia?

    Abstract The current global economic situation is placing huge demands on animal shelters and other animal welfare organisations. For example, the 'Left on the Verge' report produced by a consortium of UK equine welfare charities states that equine rehoming centres in the UK are running close to maximum capacity; there is little space to take in any more animals. RSPCA are currently appealing for funds to combat a situation of increased animal abandonments they refer to as ‘animal welfare crisis’. In the light of these circumstances, some animal welfare organisations have reluctantly begun considering the possibility of having to destroy abandoned healthy animals due to a lack of resources to rehabilitate them. The term euthanasia is often used in such discussions, the justification being that if animals are facing an uncertain future with possibility of neglect it may be better for the animals to be destroyed to avoid the risk of such an eventuality. There is debate over the definition of euthanasia, but it is often proposed as being humane killing in the animal's interest. This is where the difficulty lies, for in some cases it is difficult to predict the animal's future interest with any certainty. One can image the scenario where animals at risk of poor welfare are seized by an animal welfare organisation for fear that they may suffer; yet the organisation lacks the resources to house them, or the animals are unlikely to be able to rehabilitated to a state suitable for rehoming. In such a case it may be decided to euthanise the animals. In this scenario, an attempt is being made to predict the animals’ future interest, yet this knowledge is imperfect. Would the animals, in fact, fall into a poor welfare situation if they were not seized? Might there be a chance of rehoming after all? In order to distinguish true euthanasia, where we can be reasonably certain that an animal is experiencing poor welfare and will continue to do so if the action is not taken, from the scenario discussed above, the term 'precautionary euthanasia’ may be more appropriate. Precautionary euthanasia can then be subject to ethical scrutiny and debate as a concept in its own right.

    Kennedy, M. (2013) Euthanasia or precautionary euthanasia. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare International Animal Welfare Symposium, Barcelona.
  • Latency to Ejaculation and Conception Rate (PowerPoint presentation)

    Abstract To investigate the effect of differences in mating management on behaviour and success of conception in Thoroughbred horses. Methods: Twenty-three matings across seven stallions were observed at stud A, and nineteen matings across three stallions were observed at stud B. Both studs used general mating management practices typical of Thoroughbred breeding in the UK. Before mating, mares were judged to be in full oestrus through their behaviour on presentation to a stallion and veterinary examination of ovarian follicle size and cervical dilation. Results: Conception rate across stallions at 16 days post-mating was highly variable at both studs, indicating an effect of stallion on success of breeding. However, the overall conception rate on stud A was 70%, much greater than that on stud B, 53%. At both studs, stallions in matings where mares conceived took around the same time to ejaculate, 18.9s ± 3.5 (stud A) and 18.3s ± 2.7 (stud B). In matings which did not result in conception, stallions exhibited longer latencies to ejaculate at stud A (22.5s ± 5.0) and shorter latencies to ejaculate at stud B (16.0s ± 2.8). Mean latencies to ejaculation in matings where mares did not conceive were significantly different across studs (P<0.05, chi square = 9.0, 22.5s ± 5.0 vs. 16.0s ± 2.8, Kruskal-Wallis test). An apparent tendency for handlers to attempt to rush mating was noted at stud B; more vocal commands were directed at the horses and the lead rein appeared to be used to encourage mounting and dismounting more than at stud A. Conclusions and Practical Significance: These studies suggest that 18-19 seconds is the optimum latency to ejaculation for conception to occur. In terms of application of these findings to managed horse breeding, it is clearly not possible to manipulate latency to ejaculation. It is, however, possible to suggest that ‘rushing’ of the process by handlers, observed at stud B, is clearly counter-productive, and the observed lack of such rushing may account for stud A’s superior conception rate. Acknowledgements: The Thoroughbred stud farms participating in this study.

    Kennedy, M.J. (2008) Latency to ejaculation and conception rate. European Veterinary Conference (Voorjaarsdagen), Amsterdam.
  • The Effect of Latency to Ejaculation on Conception in Thoroughbred Horses: A Comparison Across Two Stud Farms

    Abstract In order to investigate the effect of differences in mating management on behaviour and success of conception in Thoroughbred horses, twenty-three matings across seven stallions were observed at stud A, and nineteen matings across three stallions were observed at stud B. Both studs used general mating management practices typical of Thoroughbred breeding in the UK: an upper-lip twitch, bridle and felt boots were applied to all mares, and all stallions wore bridles. 3 handlers were present at each mating; one to control the stallion, another to restrain the mare, and a third to hold the mare's tail aside and assist intromission. Before mating, mares were judged to be in full oestrus through their behaviour on presentation to a stallion and veterinary examination of ovarian follicle size and cervical dilation.

    Conception rate across stallions at 16 days post-mating was highly variable at both studs, indicating an effect of stallion on success of breeding. However, the overall conception rate on stud A was 70%, much greater than that on stud B, 53%.

    At both studs, stallions in matings where mares conceived took around the same time to ejaculate, 18.9s ± 3.5 (stud A) and 18.3s ± 2.7 (stud B). In matings which did not result in conception, stallions exhibited longer latencies to ejaculate at stud A (22.5s ± 5.0) and shorter latencies to ejaculate at stud B (16.0s ± 2.8). Mean latencies to ejaculation in matings where mares did not conceive were significantly different across studs (P<0.05, chi square= 9.0, 22.5s ± 5.0 vs. 16.0s ± 2.8, Kruskal-Wallis test).

    These studies suggest that 18-19 seconds is the optimum latency to ejaculation for conception to occur. In terms of application of these findings to managed horse breeding, it is clearly not possible to manipulate latency to ejaculation. It is, however, possible to suggest that ‘rushing’ of the process by handlers, observed at stud B, is clearly counter-productive, and the observed lack of such rushing may account for stud A’s superior conception rate.

    Kennedy, M.J. (2006) The effect of latency to ejaculation on conception in Thoroughbred horses: a comparison across two stud farms. 40th International Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology, Bristol.
  • Intensively Managed Mating in Thoroughbreds: Effects of Stallion and Mare Behaviour on Conception

    19 matings across 3 stallions were observed at a Thoroughbred stud. Before mating, mares were assessed for oestrus through their behaviour on presentation to a stallion and veterinary examination. For mating an upper-lip twitch, bridle and felt boots were applied to all mares, and stallions wore bridles. One handler controlled the stallion, another restrained the mare, and a third assisted intromission. Lutenising hormone was administered after mating in an attempt to ensure ovulation.

    Ultrasound scanning at 16 days post-mating identified 10 successful conceptions. 2 of 5 matings to stallion A resulted in conception, as did 3 of 9 to stallion B and 5 of 5 to stallion C. This suggests an effect of stallion on success of breeding.

    Stallions exhibited a significantly greater latency to ejaculation after the final mount where mares did conceive (p <0.05, mean and standard deviation = 18.3s ± 2.7 vs 16.0s ± 2.8, Mann-Whitney U test). This may be due to longer stimulation of the mare's reproductive tract facilitating successful conception. There was no significant difference across stallions in latency to ejaculate after the final mount.

    Kennedy, M.J. (2004) Intensively managed mating in Thoroughbreds: effects of stallion and mare behaviour on conception. 13th Annual Conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology, Glasgow.
  • Common Factors Among Horses Performing Stereotypies

    This paper, a companion to 'Crib-biting and Wind-sucking Stereotypies in the Horse', Kennedy, Schwabe and Broom (1993), analysed some of the data from that study in order to attempt to identify common factors across horses performing stereotypies. There was no significant difference in stereotypy incidence between geldings and mares. Breed was found to be significantly associated with stereotypy performance, with horses of the Thoroughbred/Arab type being more likely to perform stereotypies than those of the draught/native pony type. Discriminant analysis found breed the best predictor of stereotypy performance, followed by the number of horses the individual could see from its loosebox, the length of time it had access to hay, and the length of time it worked respectively.

    Kennedy, M.J. (1996). Common factors among horses performing stereotypies. Stocarstvo, 50 (6): 423 428.
  • Crib-biting and Wind-sucking Stereotypies in the Horse

    This is a descriptive 'case report' discussing ten cases of equine stereotypy and their management. It closes with a discussion of common methods of managing stereotypy in horses and the welfare consequences and ethics of such methods. For the companion analytical paper, see 'Common Factors Among Horses Performing Stereotypies', Kennedy (1996).

    Kennedy, M.J., Schwabe, A.E. & Broom, D.M. (1993). Crib biting and wind sucking stereotypies in the horse. Equine Veterinary Education, 5(3): 142 147.